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Maryland Department of Natural Resources Acquires Old South Mountain Inn Property

The 3-acre land and building acquisition will expand public access and wildlife habitat in the South Mountain Recreation Area

Photo of stone building along a highway

Old South Mountain Inn, photo by Peter Morrill, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently purchased a parcel of land adjoining South Mountain State Park to bring additional recreational opportunities to residents in Washington and Frederick counties. Formerly the location of the Old South Mountain Inn, this 3.15 acres of mostly forested and historic land will be managed by the Maryland Park Service.

“Maryland is continuing to meet the growing need for more public spaces and parks by purchasing and conserving properties through Program Open Space,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz. “The addition of the Old South Mountain Inn property will add a historic gem to state lands near Boonsboro that already includes several popular parks in the South Mountain Recreation Area.”

The Department of Natural Resources also plans to expand recreational opportunities and add interpretive exhibits about the Battle of South Mountain at the site. The Old South Mountain Inn, a historic stone commercial building on the property, will be used as a visitor’s center.

The Inn was previously recognized as one of the oldest restaurants in Maryland. It was founded as early as 1732, served initially as a wagon stand for traffic passing on the National Road, as a private residence from the 1870s to 1920s, then later as a tavern and restaurant, according to the Boonsboro Historical Society. The property is near well-visited sites such as Antietam Battlefield and Washington Monument State Park.

“The department is proud to purchase this historic Maryland property to ensure it’s accessible to visitors and preserved for future generations,” said Land Acquisition and Planning Director Hilary Bell. “The new land will buffer the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, expand the area of South Mountain State Park, and provide more forest habitat for birds and other wildlife.”

The department purchased the property from owners Chad and Lisa Dorsey.

“We fell in love with this property and are proud to have been a part of its history for over 20 years,” said Chad Dorsey. “We are grateful to the many patrons, supporters, and friends of Old South Mountain Inn and we are delighted that the property will be protected for future generations as part of South Mountain State Park.”

The property was purchased through Program Open Space funding for $1.97 million and was formally acquired by the state on July 18. Program Open Space is used to purchase outdoor sites for public use and conservation.

To date in 2023, the department has had 18 Program Open Space Stateside acquisition projects approved by the Board of Public Works, totaling more than $12 million and protecting over 1,000 acres statewide. Program Open Space Stateside preserves natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland through fee simple and conservation easement acquisitions. Properties acquired through this process are managed by the Department of Natural Resources as state parks as well as forest, wildlife, and fisheries management areas. 

High-resolution photos of the Old South Mountain Inn are available on the Department of Natural Resources Flickr page.